The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 80 billion cubic feet for the week ending September 30. Analysts were expecting a storage addition of around 70 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an injection of around 95 billion cubic feet, and last year's storage addition for the week totaled 97 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories rose by 49 billion cubic feet in the week ending September 16.
Natural gas futures for November delivery traded down about 0.7% in advance of the EIA's report, at around $3.02 per million BTUs, and traded near $2.97 after the data release. Natural gas closed at $3.04 per million BTUs on Wednesday, after posting a five-day high on Wednesday. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.17 to $3.17. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $2.91.
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Natural gas demand is expected to be low for the next few days as Hurricane Matthew makes landfall later Thursday and proceeds to move along the Atlantic coast. Temperatures are expected to be warm, but not hot. Cooler temperatures in the Midwest are expected to move eastward while the U.S. west coast should warm up after a cooling trend last week.
Stockpiles remain about 2.1% above their levels of a year ago and 5.9% above the five-year average.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 3.680 trillion cubic feet, around 205 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 3.475 trillion cubic feet and 74 billion cubic feet above last year's total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 3.606 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.
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Here's how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers reacted to this latest report:
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the country's largest producer of natural gas, traded down about 0.3%, at $86.76 in a 52-week range of $71.55 to $95.55.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) traded down about 1.2% to $6.72. The stock’s 52-week range is $1.50 to $9.55.
EOG Resources Inc. (EOG) traded down about 0.8% to $96.58. The 52-week range is $57.15 to $98.32.
Moreover, the United States Natural Gas ETF (UNG) traded down about 1.2%, at $8.58 in a 52-week range of $5.78 to $11.36.